Georg N. Schäfer (he / him)

Doctoral Researcher
Department Structural Changes of the Technosphere

Main Focus

Georg is a doctoral candidate of sociology at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Generally, he is interested in socio-ecological dynamics that contributed to the emergence and persistence of the Technosphere. His dissertation project Hiding in Plains Sight: Tracing the Emergence of the Technosphere between Kansas' Dust Bowls explores this topic by the example of Western Kansas’ groundwater irrigation crisis. The project analyses the physical, technological, and societal rebirth of Western Kansas’ at the inflection point of the Great Acceleration after the extreme events of the 1930s and 1950s Dust Bowls. The project follows the emergence and transformation of the cultural, economic, legal, and technological drivers that enabled this socio-ecological transformation. This way, the route study raises the question of whether the same drivers that have enabled this transformation are now trapping Kansas into its technospheric present. By examining Western Kansas’ groundwater irrigation crisis in a planetary context, the project aims to contribute to an understanding of local agency in the planetary transformation process, and in turn, how global path dependencies pose limits to regional agencies in the Anthropocene. 

The project is accompanied by the mapping project, developed in collaboration with Brian Holmes. Through the ongoing website project, Brian and Georg aim to make the emergence and socio-ecological impact of technosphere institutions and infrastructures in Kansas visible.

In addition to his doctoral studies, Georg is a project member of Teleconnections: A Spatiotemporal Atlas of the Technosphere and editor of the Anthropocene Curriculum website. Georg coordinates the institute’s collaboration with the Anthropocene Working Group and co-chairs the Anthropocene Commons e.V.

Curriculum Vitae

Georg completed his BA in Governance and Public Policy at the University of Passau and the Lahore University of Management and Sciences. In 2019, Georg graduated from Kiel University with an MA in Practical Philosophy of the Economy and the Environment and an MSc in Sustainability, Society and the Environment, after spending a year studying at the University of Kansas. He joined the research project “Ethics and Human Rights as Elements for Economic Knowledge” at Free University Bolzano to work on the monograph Mapping Mainstream Economics: Genealogical Foundations of Alternativity (Routledge, 2022), co-authored with Sören E. Schuster. Following this, Georg became the scientific coordinator of the Evidence & Experiment program at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (HKW). During that time, Georg enlisted in the Anthropocene Formations working group of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) to extend the work on his PhD project. In 2023, he managed the international press conference of the Anthropocene Working Group and the Max Planck Society announcing the proposed GSSP Candidate Site of the Anthropocene Epoch.

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